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Top 6 storylines to know for Bills at Eagles | Week 12


The Bills are back in the win column just in time for a tough stretch ahead. They've got the Eagles up next who are on a short week.

A win over Philadelphia would mean Buffalo's first win in Lincoln Financial Field and first in Philly since 1996. Here are six things to know about Sunday's game.

1. Bills begin their toughest stretch

The Bills have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NFL. They've got the Eagles, Chiefs and Cowboys as their next three opponents. Those three teams have a combined record of 23-7 through 11 weeks of the season.

Buffalo will thankfully get a bye after facing Philadelphia, so the group can rest up and heal before seeing the Chiefs and Cowboys. Week 15 against the Cowboys will be Buffalo's next and second to last home game. That means the Bills won't play at Highmark Stadium again for about a month.

After Week 15, Buffalo will be back on the road to face the Chargers before heading home for their final home game of the regular season against the Patriots. The Chargers and Patriots have a combined record of 6-14 but that doesn't mean the Bills will have a break. Regardless of record, those two games could be very important for division and conference standings.

The Bills will then finish the regular season with a game against the Miami Dolphins. Miami is currently first in the AFC East and the Bills are second. Of course, the schedule makers knew the crowning of the AFC East champs could possibly come down to the final game. The Bills already beat the Dolphins in Week 4 but another victory over them will be very important if both teams continue to pick up wins.

2. Sean McDermott's first game in Philadelphia as a HC

Head coach Sean McDermott is heading back to Philadelphia for the first time since becoming a head coach. McDermott calls Buffalo home now, but Philly is where it all began for him.

"It was my first job in the NFL and a place I was at for 12 years, plus," McDermott said. "I learned a lot in my time there, mostly under Andy Reid. It was a great experience."

McDermott spent a big chunk of his NFL coaching career with the Eagles, and he also went to high school about 30 minutes from Lincoln Financial Field. The HC started with the Eagles in 1999 and was there until 2010 serving in various roles. McDermott worked his way from starting as the administrative coordinator in the scouting department to defensive coordinator by his second to last season in Philly.

McDermott isn't the only Buffalo Bill with connections to Philadelphia. Defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator John Butler is from Philadelphia and went to the same high school as McDermott. Safety Jordan Poyer (2013, 7th round) and cornerback Rasul Douglas (2017, 3rd round) were both drafted by the Eagles. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph also played for the Eagles in 2022.

Cornerback Christian Benford (Villanova), linebacker Tyler Matakevich (Temple), left tackle Dion Dawkins (Temple) and Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) played college or high school football in the Philadelphia area.

Buffalo's HC is also one win away from becoming the second winningest head coach in Buffalo Bills history. It would definitely be special for McDermott to earn that that in a place where his NFL career started.

3. How does Buffalo's offense matchup against the Eagles D?

Buffalo's offense got back to looking dominant in Week 11 as they put up more than 30 points against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Interim OC Joe Brady was up for the challenge in his first game calling plays for Buffalo's offense. We will see if the Bills can stay consistent in his second game.

"When you turn on the tape, as a coordinator, you don't like going against (them) but as a fan of football, you're appreciative of the way that they play the game," Brady said of the Eagles defense. "They do a really good job of affecting the quarterback and getting after it and they have playmakers on the outside. So, it's gonna be a great challenge for us and I'm glad we got a full week this week to prepare."

When looking at how Buffalo's offense matches up against the Eagles defense, it'll be another tough group to face but the Eagles rank statistically lower than the Jets in several categories.

The Eagles are allowing an average of 21.2 points per game (16th in the NFL) and 324.6 total yards per game (14th). When you dig a bit deeper, the defense hasn't been the best against the pass. They're allowing an average of 248 passing yards per game (28th), a passer rating of 96.4 (25th) and have surrendered 21 passing touchdowns (30th). On top of that they're allowing teams to convert 43.2% of their third down opportunities (27th) and are allowing teams to score touchdowns 62.5% of the time they're in the red zone (t-25th).

Buffalo's offense is averaging 26.73 points per game (7th) and 372.2 total yards per game (6th). When you look at how they're passing the football and finding the end zone, they're numbers are among some of the best in the league. They're averaging 254.5 passing yards per game (7th), are scoring touchdowns on 65.9% of their red zone trips (3rd) and Josh Allen ranks first in the NFL with 22 passing touchdowns.

Philly will present challenges up front as they have the best run defense in the NFL and get after the quarterback at a top 10 rate. They're allowing an average of only 76.5 rushing yards per game (1st), have 31 sacks (t-9th) and 74 quarterback hits (4th).

4. First meeting between Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts

Sunday marks the first meeting between quarterbacks Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts.

The QBs were drafted two years apart as Allen was the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft and Hurts was drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft. They both made a name for themselves quickly after posting impressive numbers within a few seasons of being in the league.

The two encapsulate what the best quarterback play looks like in today's NFL. They both have great arms, but it's their legs and athletic ability that create nightmares for opposing defenses. Hurts and Allen rank No. 1 and 2 in rushing touchdowns since 2020. Hurts has the most in the NFL over that span with 35 and Allen is next with 28.  

Hurts became the first QB in NFL history to have consecutive seasons with at least 10 rushing touchdowns (10 in 2021 and 13 in 2022). The QB is one rushing touchdown away from three straight seasons of 10 or more. Hurts also has a .775 win percentage (31-9) since 2021, which is first amongst NFL QBs during that span.

Allen has 206 total touchdowns since being drafted. It's an NFL record for the most in a player's first six seasons. Buffalo's QB also has the second most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NFL history with 45.

So far this season, the two rank first and second in total touchdowns. Allen leads with way with 29 and Hurts is second with 24. We've seen Allen and Patrick Mahomes go at it several times, and it's been a fun matchup to watch. We should get another entertaining one with these two at the helm.

5. What to expect from Bills DBs vs. Eagles WRs

Buffalo's secondary will be tasked with shutting down a couple of talented wide receivers on Sunday afternoon.

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith know how to make life hard for opposing defenses. Brown ties for the second most receiving yards in the league with 1,013 and has six touchdowns. Smith has 632 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.

Buffalo's defense could be looking at this game with a next man up mentality once again as cornerback Dane Jackson and nickel corner Taron Johnson are in concussion protocol. There was some good news from Sean McDermott on Monday after we saw safety Taylor Rapp exit last Sunday's game via ambulance.

"All tests have come back negative," McDermott shared. "I haven't seen him today, but according to our trainers, he's in a good spot and has a chance to play on Sunday."

The task to slow Philadelphia's fifth ranked offense (average 27.3 points per game) won't just be on Buffalo's defensive backs. It'll take all 11 as the Eagles know how to successfully mix in the run game as well. They have a top 10 rushing offense as they average 128.1 rushing yards per game. The Eagles also lead the NFL in third down conversion rate (48.2%) and score on 45.7% of their drives (2nd).

"Execution is going to be huge and we're gonna have to be just as opportunistic in that environment as we were against the Jets," assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "Those things give you a chance. I know they're going to be stingy, they take care of the ball extremely well. We're going to have to go and force and create some opportunities for ourselves, but I'm excited about the challenge and I know the players will be also."

6. A look at the AFC playoff picture

With six games left in the regular season, the Bills still have time to move up in the playoff ranks.

Currently, Buffalo is on the outside looking in sitting at No. 8.

  1. Kansas City (7-2)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)
  4. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
  5. Cleveland Browns (7-3)
  6. Houston Texans (6-4)
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
  8. Buffalo Bills (6-5)

If you take a look at the division standings, the Bills are in second place.

  1. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
  2. Buffalo Bills (6-5)
  3. New York Jets (4-6)
  4. New England Patriots (2-8)

Buffalo still has two division games remaining – Week 17 vs. Patriots and Week 18 at Miami. If the Bills can beat both teams and continue to pick up wins, another AFC East title is definitely not out of sight.

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